Issue 2: Introduction

Issue 2: Introduction

In the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal Province, rural residents wait to be seen at a temporary medical station. Although all South Africans have the right to free medical treatment and medication, many rural residents cannot exercise this right due to the remote locations of their homes. Photo by Matthew Willman/Oxfam, courtesy of Photoshare.

 

The launch of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2007-2011 marked the end of state-sanctioned AIDS denialism in South Africa. Since then, we have taken significant strides in response to HIV/AIDS and TB. Most notable has been the dramatic expansion in our ARV treatment programme; by the middle of 2011 more than 1.79 million people were on treatment, more than seven times the number recorded at the beginning of 2007. Reports indicate  that in the last year alone over 600,000 new patients enrolled on treatment.

Now, with the NSP 2012 – 2016 we have a new plan containing all the ingredients to not only ensure rapid progress towards universal treatment access but also to turn the tide on high HIV and TB incidence. Of equal importance is how the new plan allows us to establish systems for dealing more effectively with human rights abuses and discrimination based on HIV status.

Despite the progress we have already made, the success and sustainability of our response depends heavily on how well it is financed and how well those finances are managed. Few health activists fully grasp the inextricable link between effective financing for health and the realisation of the right to health.

This edition of NSP Review aims to help activists, policy makers and the public to understand this link. The magazine provides a critical review of some of the most important aspects of the allocation and management of financial resources for dealing with HIV/AIDS and TB. It also offers useful insights into how we can hold key players to account.

This issue of NSP Review is a valuable resource in any effort to secure the full financing of health interventions and the appropriate use of resources. However, it is only a tool. Everyone who is interested in the realisation of the right to health, as set out in Section 27 of our Constitution, must take action to ensure that government no longer uses scarcity of resources as a de facto excuse for failing to meet its obligations.

By Daygan Eagar is a researcher with SECTION27 and a member of the SANAC Costing Task Team.